Clarity Is Power, Decision Equals Success
One of the toughest issues in making a good career choice and career goal setting is identifying what it is that you want. Even when it seems that you know what you want, you may still have doubts on if your career choice is the right one for you.
Reaching clarity in those issues may be the most important thing you can do in your career planning and goal setting. Here are a few career goal-setting guidelines that can help.
Most people, even very successful ones, have some periods in their career path when they seem unsure about their career choice and goals. It is totally human to feel that way.
Often, such periods just come and go. For example, they come when you face some overwhelming obstacles on your way. It is all over as soon as you get through these obstacles.
That situation by itself is not a problem of choosing a career, only a test of your perseverance in seeing it through but what if those doubts persist, or if they always live somewhere in the background of your thoughts? If it just does not feel right?
If this is the case, then it is time to look more carefully at your career choice and overall career objectives.
Often we choose or are placed in a career because it just seems like the right step to make or that is what your studies have focused on.
The only problem is that sometimes that passion that we once had as a young adult are now gone, or the realism of the job has taken the interest and joy out of it.
That is when it is time to set a new career goal or objective. Choosing the right career goal to sink into requires a great deal of soul searching. You need to ask yourself these questions beforehand:
• Am I making the kind of money that I want to make? • Do I want to make more money? • Does money even matter to me? • Do I like what I’m doing right now? • What am I passionate about? • What could I be doing that would make me happier than I am right now? • Would I be happier simply switching positions or getting a promotion; or would I be happier changing careers all together? • Why am I still working here? • What is stopping me from leaving this job or getting that promotion? • What is stopping me from leaving this job?
These are all vital questions that you have to ask yourself before deciding what your career goals are going to be. If you are honest with yourself, you will know exactly what direction you should be going in. Without being honest with yourself you can’t expect to better your life, you can only expect to have to ask yourself these questions all over again until you find happiness.
Career Goal Setting Plan
The following table provides you with a simple outline of the factors you may want to consider and identify when setting and analyzing your career goals in a step-by-step format.
Career Goal You must Define and write them down in order of priority Benefits and Advantages of achieving this goal Listing these may help to motivate you, Key Steps that you Need to Take, When Will I do This? Give yourself deadlines, Support and Resources (What support and from whom do I need, what resources, such as time, money, contacts) Outcomes and Reflection (Record whether you achieved the goal and what worked or did not work along the way for future reference)
The above table sort of shows you the who, what, where, when, and how of career goal setting. It is just like finding the facts for a story. Journalists have to answer all of these questions in order to get the full story.
That is the same thing that you have to when setting career goals. Let me show you in exact detail in the next diagram. Who What Where When How Who will I ask for help? What do I want the outcome to be? Where should I start? When should I begin? How should I begin? Who will benefit from my career goal? What will I do to get started? Where will my career goal put me in 10 years? When Do I want these goals to be reached? How will these goals affect my future? Who will I work with to accomplish my goal? What will really make me happy? Where will I apply my resources? When will I apply my knowledge to begin attaining my goals?
Do you see what I’m talking about now? All of these questions have to be directed before you can begin to work on your career goals. They will take some real thought and honesty to set them properly. When you have answered these questions you next have to begin to prioritize them. Let me show you an example.
John Smith wants to be the President of his company one day. Right now he is a mere data entry clerk. His company is a large corporation that works with computer repairs and security. John knows everything there is to know about computer repairs and can fix almost any computer he will ever look at.
He is efficient at using and finding hackers and securing computers are not hacked into. His boss is currently ignoring his advice so John is not so sure how to go about getting his dream of being president of the company someday which he is more than capable of doing already. What should he do?
This is a time when John should begin to prioritize and decide how he can get to his goal. His ultimate goal is to be company president and he wants to accomplish this in 10 years.
John is currently 26 years old. Since he knows the what and the when; he must decide everything else. I opted to show you his possible steps in an easy to read table……again.
Steps for How, Steps for answering what Steps for why, Steps for When, Steps for where
1 I will make a to-do list, I will put my ideas for improvement in it, I want to move up the next position at work, I will do this today! I will do this in private
2 How can I get noticed? I will make a presentation showing my idea for improvement because I can’t move up if no one knows I’m there, I will do this the day it is finished, I will do this at work
3 How can I let my work be seen I will now show my superior my presentation? I know my work is good and strong, I will do this when I know my boss can’t ignore me, I will do this in my bosses office or invite him to my house
4 How can I get the higher ups to see my work? I will schedule time with a major company player to give my ideas, I can’t move up until I make friends with higher ups, I will invite colleagues and higher ups to a cocktail party this weekend, I will do this during a meeting
5 How can I keep moving up? Now that I’m getting closer to higher ups I will share my ideas verbally & get impression, I will do this after 3 months of making friends with higher ups, I will bring these up at meetings with backup presentation ready if requested
This is just a sample of the first 3 months of John executing his goal to get higher in the company.
Naturally becoming president will take a lot longer than 3 months but getting closer to superiors and colleagues at work is a great start as long as you don’t step on anyone’s toes and build their trust. Over time, you can introduce your ideas and present them in a professional manner at the right time.
When you see that your company needs help on something work in secret and bring in a finished product at the right time or schedule private meetings with your boss.
This shows that you are not only ambitious but also motivated and determined. It is a great way to move up in the company. In order to do this properly, you must take the steps in succession and not try to become a president in 1 year. That is unrealistic.
Although John will want to begin working for his long term goal of being company president, he should also begin by setting short term goals that will lead him there.
The first goal can start with moving up one position at work and continue on in this method. That way he can celebrate each promotion and advancement separately rather than focusing only on his inability to make president right away.
From here, John should just follow the step-by-step methods mentioned in the above sections for exact steps to attaining and setting goals. Just remember that you have to develop an action plan if you are going to succeed.
Four strategies can help you to develop an effective action plan. • State your goal in very specific terms that you can accept • Plan backwards from your goal for the best results • Confront your fears and expectations immediately and progressively • Put your plan on paper and into action as soon as possible
Your goal Planning a career move is much like mapping your route for a road trip.
If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t decide how to get there, but if you do know where you are going, you’ll get there faster.
Goals like “Go back to school” are too general and not specific enough. You have to translate these goals into specific statements such as “Enter a college accounting program by next fall” or “For the next two months, search for work in the computer securities field.” You have to know exactly what you want to do and when to go about it. Plan Backwards One of the best ways to move forward is to plan backwards. Start by asking yourself if you can accomplish your goal today. If you can’t why do you think that is? What do you have to do first? Is there something you have to do before that?
Keep thinking backwards like this until you arrive at tasks you could do today. This will help you to attain the goal’s starting point.
For example, if your goal is to take a two-year business administration program, could you start today? No, you have to be accepted to the program first. Could you be accepted today? No, you have to apply first. Could you apply today? No, you have to decide which post-secondary institutions to apply to. Could you decide today? No, you have to do some research first and so on. I could do this all day but you get the point.
Don’t worry if your list of things to do becomes several lists
• Deal with your fears and expectations of yourself • Look over your list of things you will have to do to achieve your goal. • Do you believe that you can do it? If you have doubts, take some time to think them through first.
Are your expectations realistic? Have you succeeded or failed at tasks that were similar to this before? What can you do to improve your chances of success this time around? For example, if there is a good chance you will not follow through with your plans, you have to ask yourself why.
Are you a professional procrastinator? If so, what can you do to make sure that you will keep going until you reach your goal? Are you afraid of failing?
If so, work at improving the skills you will need. Or test the waters by taking an evening or distance education course before you sign up for a whole program. If you are having trouble identifying your fears or figuring out how to deal with them, talk to people you trust. Ask for their suggestions, but always make your own decisions.
Put your plan into action from to do list By this stage, you probably have more than one list of things to do and, if it is necessary, some plans for avoiding or dealing with potential problems. Now you need to put them all together into one comprehensive plan. You must list tasks in the order in which you must complete them and set deadlines for the completion of any major plans. Successful career planners keep themselves on track using a variety of methods, such as:
• Marking tasks on a monthly calendar (noting important dates such as application deadlines or action plans) • Making weekly or daily lists of things to do and cross off tasks as they are completed • Using a computer program to create timeline charts which give you your time limits for task completion • Using a commercial appointment book or a notebook; even a palm pilot with a new page for each day or week.
Use whatever methods work best for you. If it is absolutely necessary, ask a friend to check on your progress occasionally or question you on your successes because you are more likely to get things done if you know you’ll be asked about it.
Now you have learned all that you could want to set successful career goals. If you follow the things in this section and have remembered the previous sections, you will do just fine because there is nothing to hold you back now.
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